Thursday, February 13th
Doors 7pm /The Way Down Wanderers 8pm /Infamous Stringdusters 9pm / 21+
$20 Advance / $25 Day of Show
The Infamous Stringdusters
“With a nod to the past and a firm foot down on the gas toward the future, the ‘Dusters… don’t leave bluegrass behind; they’re stretching it from within.” – New York Times
“…these stellar bluegrass players are pushing the music forward.” – David Dye/World Café
The Infamous Stringdusters rise to new heights on their ninth full-length record Rise Sun. For the album, the GRAMMY® Award-winning quintet—Andy Falco [guitar], Chris Pandolfi [banjo], Andy Hall [dobro], Jeremy Garrett [fiddle], and Travis Book [double bass]—expanded their signature sound by perfecting their seamless fusion of All-American-bluegrass and rock.
Once again sail into uncharted territory moored only by their expressive patchwork of All-American bluegrass threaded together with strands of rock, jazz, funk, country, old-time, and more.
As they approached this latest body of work, the group’s ambition matched their outsized creative curiosity.
“Rise Sun was sparked by the feeling of wanting something better for the world—more love, more awareness, and more compassion,” says Hall. “It’s a message of taking care of each other, our planet, and our selves. We all shared this feeling as evidenced by the songs we brought to the project. It’s the feeling of a rising sun as opposed to a dark night. Sometimes a message of hope is less popular than one of despair, but it’s much-needed nevertheless.”
It’s also a message that 13 years, eight studio projects, and nearly 1,000 shows prepared the boys to properly present. The Infamous Stringdusters stand out as the rare group who can team up with contemporary artists on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert one night and headline the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre or perform alongside The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh the next. Engendering a sense of impassioned fandom, they band have attracted a faithful audience that continues to grow. Moreover, their powerful music and performances paved the way for a GRAMMY® Award win in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for 2017’s Laws of Gravity.
When it came time to record what would become Rise Sun, they pushed themselves to evolve once more.
“Rise Sun is the latest chapter in the progression of our sound,” says Pandolfi. “It’s been a long arc that includes evolution on all fronts—writing, arranging, performing, and maybe most importantly, growing as humans who have more to say as the journey rolls on. New albums are the time when we write and introduce our strongest original material. On our last release Laws of Gravity, we really started to hit our stride with recording live in the studio. Rise Sun is another big step in that direction.”
For the first time, the band chose the song order before actually recording. Additionally, they maintained that order throughout the process, recording the songs in sequence which resulted in a natural flow. This choice, “gives it the feeling of a story as you listen down,” says Hall. It represented a moment of collective confidence.
“We self-produced the last album, so we felt validated in a sense that our instincts were sound,” adds Book. “We came into this one with some confidence. Any doubts about our band or our mission had dissipated. What remained was a deep sense of purpose and love.”
“The GRAMMY® put some high-octane gas in our tanks as well,” grins Garrett. “We also wanted to rise to the challenge of making a follow-up project worthy of what we had done in the past.”
The Infamous Stringdusters introduce the album with the handclap-driven gallop of the title track “Rise Sun.” High energy banjo powers an uplifting and undeniable refrain that immediately shines.
“It’s a hopeful anthem,” Book elaborates. “The sun is rising, and the light is overtaking the darkness. The idea for the melody, inspired by Southern gospel music, came to me driving out of the mountains into Georgia from my home in North Carolina. When we wrote it, I was feeling a deep sense of hope for humanity that the sun will rise again.”
Then, there’s the hummable instrumental “Cloud Valley,” which exudes a sci-fi spirit of wonder via sonic intricacy. “Science fiction can transport you to a place of deep imagination,” says Pandolfi. “We wanted to generate a soundscape for an imaginary mystical setting. It really came alive when we all got together.”
Everything culminates on a heartfelt send-off with “Truth and Love.” Its delicate musical backdrop transmits an important statement for The Infamous Stringdusters.
“I wrote that a few years ago and brought it back now, because I feel like the message has become more relevant today,” Falco states. “The world is polarized. Everything is so extreme, and partisan politics have become a culture war. The song is a reminder of what’s truly important in life—seek the truth, find your love, look up high, and aim above. Life is short, so keep your eye on what’s important while you’re here.”
In the end, that’s precisely what The Infamous Stringdusters do on Rise Sun as they boldly welcome yet another new day, new phase, and new chapter.
“We’re a brotherhood, but that family extends beyond the band even,” Falco leaves off. “Our music gives us an opportunity to bring some light in a world that can be dark sometimes.”
The Way Down Wanderers
“We don’t consider ourselves folk artists or bluegrass players so much as we consider ourselves song-writers. We try to convey ideas and experiences that are universally meaningful to people. To us, the music and instrumentation exists to move those ideas forward and lift them up; we try not to limit ourselves to one genre of music or any specific type of instrumentation because certain songs might call for something else … keys or an electric guitar, for instance.”
The band’s forthcoming sophomore album, produced and engineered by Grammy winning industry pro, David Schiffman, underscores that sentiment with songs that address love, loss and personal evolution. Framed by instrumentation that ranges cohesively from pop to americana to bluegrass to spoken word, the lyrics find a familiar place in a listeners’ heart and mind and the melodies, often powerfully framed by 3 part harmonies, hold them firmly in place. The result is 12 stirring songs that listeners will be drawn to again and again, as relatable and inspiring as they are catchy and uplifting.
Often referred to by fans as one of the hardest-working, hardest-touring bands on the circuit today, the 5-piece Illinois-based act not only proves that classification with their jam-packed tour schedule but also on stage every night, with youthful exuberance and a lively stage show, as reliable as it is infectious. High energy percussion, mandolin, guitar, bass, banjo and fiddle weave seamlessly together to create an experience for fans that has sold out shows across the UK and the United States, filling the front rows with fans not just singing along to one tune, but singing along to all of them. “Everybody says it. We’d be nothing without our supporters. Yeah, they buy tickets and of course we love that, but when we’ve been on the road for 10 hours and walk onto a stage road weary and we see familiar faces singing along, it’s hard to describe. It’s everything, really. There’s a whole lot of love there.”
Music enthusiasts are not the only ones taking note. Critics and tastemakers alike have awarded the young artists an impressive number of accolades ranging from official showcases at Folk Alliance International Montreal (2019) AmericanaFest (2018) and International Bluegrass Music Association (2016) to Whitstable UK Session of the Year (2017), a BBC Scotland Session (2017) as well as Finalist, International Song Writing Competition (2015 & 2016), Chicago’s Best Emerging Artist, Deli Magazine (2014) and Songpickr’s Best Songs Spotify Playlist (2016) among others. The young men are no strangers to the festival circuit either, having played major National and Regional Festivals such as Merlefest, Summer Camp, Red Wing Roots Music Festival and Saskatchewan Jazz Fest all across the United States, Canada and the UK. The band has also graced the stage of coveted venues such as Bluegrass Underground (TN), The Fox Theater (CO), Park West (IL), The Vogue (IN) The Station Inn (TN) The Ark (MI), and countless others.
Lead singer song-writers, Collin (mandolin and fiddle) and Austin (guitar and keys) met in their hometown of Peoria, IL in 2012, when the two were just 14 and 17 years old respectively. From there, a brotherly friendship formed that evolved through various other projects and into a collaborative, song-writing partnership that would ultimately form The Way Down Wanderers in 2014. The pair will sealed the deal with a legal brotherhood in August of 2019 when Austin wed Collin’s older sister at a ceremony in Chicago, IL. Illinois natives, John Williams (bass and vocals) and John Merikoski (drums) would join the group later that year, earning a reputation as one of the most dynamic rhythm duos on the circuit today by contributing their own unique brand of high-energy charisma to the band’s stage show. Self-taught multi-instrumentalist, Travis Kowalsky (guitar and banjo) of Northern Michigan, the 5th member to join the Wanderers, exhibits a humble low key stage presence that contrasts sharply with his bold and masterful solos.
“There’s really nothing more humbling than discovering that one of our songs meant something in somebody’s life – that it helped them through a tough time, or inspired them to do something meaningful that they may have been holding back on. So the goal for us really, is to put more songs out there that inspire people and to play them for a growing and diverse audience.” Growth has most certainly been an ongoing theme for anybody who has followed the Wanderers’ impressive trajectory. And this next album release promises to push that growth into high gear; The continuation of a relatable and heartfelt Midwestern openness Wanderers fans have grown to know and love, together with a fresh new approach, is sure to rally their base of dedicated fans as well as attract the attention of new listeners, festival promoters and venue managers alike. Stay tuned!